Assessment, dropping courses and fee rebates in the second semester

06 August 2020 | DVC A/Prof Lis Lange

Dear colleagues

I hope you and your families are well. Thank you, once again, for all the work you did during the first semester. All the data we have collected indicates students’ appreciation for the care and attention provided by academics. I will, in due course, write to you about the outcomes of exams and of the Student Access Survey.

Today I am writing about:

  • the approach to marks and assessment during the second semester
  • dropping second semester courses and fee rebates.

The approach to marks and assessment during the second semester

On 3 August the Senate Executive Committee approved that the extension of remote teaching to the fourth term requires the modality of assessment to be consistent with our approach in the first semester.

All the data at our disposal – from the results of the first semester to the Student Access Survey – supports the continuation of the pass/fail approach for all first semester half (F) courses. Given the extension of remote teaching to the end of the academic year, the following has been decided regarding pass/fail final results in second semester half (S), full year half (H) and full year (W) courses in the second semester for 2020:

  1. Pass/fail results do not apply to exit-level S, H and W courses. These courses will be graded as usual.
  2. For all courses, students’ continual assessment tasks are graded – so students get feedback as before and we can see how well they are doing.
  3. The final grade posted on the system at the end of the course is a pass or fail, even though there is an underlying numeric grade (this is akin to what happens with a passed supplementary exam, where only a pass and not the actual grade is entered). The underlying numeric grade can be used in the department for deciding who gets offered a supplementary exam. (The underlying grades can be shared with students on Vula once their work is marked.) Their grades will be captured in the mid-term result field and used for internal purposes. It will not be displayed on the students’ transcripts.
  4. The grade point average (GPA) calculation is amended (on the system) to substitute the course results of the 2020 S, H and W courses with a pass/fail result. All second semester pass/fail results will be ignored by the GPA calculation. Other calculations run as usual, including a distinction in the major or stream/specialisation, a distinction in the degree, and the cumulative GPA. These results will appear on the students’ transcripts and will enable them to compete for jobs, funding or places at other higher education institutions. (The degree GPA needed to be eligible for National Research Foundation funding will still be on their transcripts.)
  5. The transcript note that only a pass/fail result was given (no grades) as a consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown will be held in perpetuity for all students who completed a 2020 S, H or W course. This note will remain on the transcripts in perpetuity so that it is part of the record alongside the results.

As in the first semester, it is understood that the structure of the different LLB programmes in the Faculty of Law makes the application of this approach very difficult. It has therefore been agreed that the Faculty of Law will be exempted from this decision. Service courses offered to other faculties which have endorsed the pass/fail principle will have to fall in line with this principle.

Dropping second semester courses and fee rebates

The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying lockdown has had a wide-ranging impact on the academic operations of the university. During the first semester of this year, the deadline for dropping courses, with the associated full fee rebate, was amended to allow students, with the benefit of curriculum advice, to reduce their course load where they felt particularly concerned that they would not be able to cope under the circumstances.

With the second semester having commenced, and given the ongoing adjustments to the regular academic operations of the university due to the lockdown, the deadline for dropping second semester courses, with the associated full fee rebate, has been amended as follows: the deadline originally set as 7 August 2020 has been amended to 16 August 2020. Curriculum advisors have been alerted by their respective faculties that students who elect to manage their curriculum load by dropping second semester courses for which they are registered have until 16 August 2020 to do so. The 100% fee rebate will apply in such cases.

This is the form for students to complete to drop a course.

Best wishes for a successful second semester and, once again, thank you for your dedicated work and commitment to supporting our students during these challenging times for all of us.

Warm regards

Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

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